England secured an important win against Belgium to put them top of their Nations League group on Sunday night.
Marcus Rashford’s penalty and a deflected second-half strike from Mason Mount were enough to secure the points for England. Somewhat surprisingly, Sunday night marked just the second time in their history that England have defeated a side ranked number one in the world.
On November 12th, 2011, Fabio Capello led his England side to a 1-0 win over European and recent World Champions Spain.
So, here is my combined team from those two historic nights.
Despite his spectacular fall from grace in the latter half of the decade, Joe Hart is the obvious choice in goal. During the 2011-12 season Hart played every game for Man City as they were crowned Premier League champions for the first time. Hart’s status as England’s first choice goalkeeper was not in doubt at the time, which is more than can be said for Jordan Pickford, whose continued inclusion in the England side remains one of the biggest question marks of Gareth Southgate’s reign.
Right Back: Trent Alexander-Arnold
Though only having recently turned 22, Trent Alexander-Arnold gets the nod ahead of Glen Johnson here. Both defenders are appreciated more for their ability going forward than their defensive capabilities. With that being said, it would be very difficult to argue that Johnson could match up to the devastating creative ability that TAA possesses.
Left Back: Ashley Cole
England’s best left back of all time? The Premier League’s best left back of all time? It’s tough to argue with either. It would be wrong not to speak on Kieran Trippier’s more than steady performance on Sunday, but he didn’t stand a chance with this one.
Centre Back: Harry Maguire
If this XI was based on current form I think it is safe to say Harry Maguire would not be anywhere near it. Since the Premier League restart the world’s most expensive defender has had a torrid time on the pitch. Overall, though, Maguire has had a very good few years both at Leicester and during his first season at United. This, coupled with his heroics for England in the 2018 World Cup, place him firmly at the heart of the defence in this England XI.
Centre Back: Joleon Lescott
Vincent Kompany’s centre back partner throughout their title-winning 2011-12 season, Lescott just about makes it into the side ahead of his former Everton team mate Phil Jagielka. He is a little fortunate that John Terry did not start against Spain because he would have been a definite starter.
Centre Midfield: Jordan Henderson
It was in 2011 that Jordan Henderson made his move from Teesside to Merseyside and he has gone from strength to strength over these last nine years. Now England’s vice-captain, Henderson played a major role in England’s World Cup semi-final run, whilst also captaining Liverpool to their first league title since 1990. More than worthy of a starting place in this midfield.
Central Midfield: Frank Lampard
Alongside former Chelsea team-mate Ashley Cole, Lampard is the biggest foregone conclusion in this side. The sole goal scorer in the historic win over Spain Chelsea’s all-time leading scorer was a shoo-in for a place in the midfield of this combined XI. A legend of the game.
Central Midfield: James Milner
Like Joe Hart and Joleon Lescott, James Milner also enjoyed a wonderful 2011-12 season. Some may label his style of play, and overall demeaner, boring, but Milner’s professionalism and fantastic work ethic throughout his career are to be commended. It is not difficult to see why he has achieved so much in the game.
Right Wing: Mason Mount
The man that bagged the winning goal against Belgium on Sunday night. Bursting onto the scene under Frank Lampard with Derby, Mount has gone on to make a good impression during his first Premier League season. He has demonstrated his playmaking ability and a decent eye for goal in his first couple of seasons of first-team football. Still, with stiff competition in the England side and an array of exciting new faces at Chelsea, he is still a player with a lot to prove.
Left Wing: Marcus Rashford
Marcus Rashford hasn’t really looked back since bursting onto the scene in early 2016. The dynamic attacker has demonstrated throughout his still adolescent career that his pace and eye for goal make him one of the most electrifying players in the Premier League. Easily one of the most important players both for England and Manchester United right now.
Striker: Darren Bent
Leaving Dominic Calvert-Lewin out was one of the trickier decisions here. The Everton striker has started the 2020/21 campaign on fire and, at the time of writing, leads the way in the Premier League scoring charts. That is after just four games, however. Bent, at 27, was going through one of the best periods of his career at Sunderland. That he went on to become part of the exclusive Premier League 100 club speaks to both his effectiveness in front of goal and place in this XI.
By Jack Thurlow